Release Date: Jun 5, 2012
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
With the breakout success of their 2009 debut album, Conditions, Australia's the Temper Trap immediately found themselves somewhat rigidly classified. Whether attributing the Temper Trap's guitar-driven, anthemic vibe to the "post-U2" phenomenon of Coldplay, or using their harmonic arrangements and clickity-clack percussion to lump them in with Fleet Foxes and Local Natives, listeners seemed to think they had this band pegged. But those judgments sold the Temper Trap short, and that's even truer for their eponymous sophomore album.
In an NME feature in October 2009, Australia’s The Temper Trap talked about how worried they were that their debut album ‘Conditions’ was a bit… wet, that their natural edge was chiselled away by producer Jim Abbiss (of ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ fame). “We were a much louder band before this record,” guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto told us.The sad fact is, the quintet’s debut gave them two-nights-at-the-KOKO success that was beyond anything they ever really deserved, and it wasn’t because of the production techniques. It was the combination of the frequently stunning falsetto warble of singer Dougy Mandagi and, of course, the song ‘Sweet Disposition’.
In 2004, the Zach Braff film Garden State turned The Shins’ first record into a “life-changing” phenomenon. Since then, numerous film’s soundtracks have tried to recreate that rom-com/indie-pop pairing, but few have been able to pull it off with the same results. In many ways, the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack was one of the first to succeed with that formula by introducing the world to Australian indie rock band The Temper Trap.
The Temper Trap hail from Australia, a continent with a lot of empty space, and perhaps that framed their approach to music – they are one of those bands that shoot for the big and grand, the sold-out, arena-sized, world-swallowing tunes. The Temper Trap’s first album, Conditions, was released in 2009, and one of its songs, “Sweet Disposition”, landed in the indie-button-pushing flick, 500 Days Of Summer. For their second release, The Temper Trap, the band kept their chest-beating approach, but incorporated a lot more electronics into their sound.
The Temper Trap’s 2009 debut, Conditions, had so many shamelessly obvious influences that it’s difficult to draw the line between their influences and their originality. Between U2, Coldplay, Radiohead, Muse, and just about any other alternative rock band that has received mainstream attention, The Temper Trap have meshed these radio-friendly aesthetics into their songs, making their own presence practically anonymous. Still, their debut was hard to write off completely, and that’s mostly due to singer Dougy Mandagi’s dynamic and passionate falsetto.
During last summer's riots, voices were heard suggesting the ongoing events might perversely be good for music. Violence, disenfranchisement, nihilism and generational disconnection: here were topics rock and pop has proved adept at exploring – even illuminating – in the past, the very conditions that gave us protest rock, punk and Public Enemy. Commentators openly dared to propose that the long-awol spirit of the Clash's White Riot or the Specials' Ghost Town might once more be abroad.
In December of 2010, when The Temper Trap made a tour stop in Portland, OR, lead singer Dougy Mandagi lamented the fact that the band had been performing the same songs for nearly two years. Mandagi’s sugary falsetto in “Sweet Disposition” propelled the group to alternative radio mainstays, but they were clearly anxious to move beyond their debut, Conditions. Almost immediately, Mandagi establishes a new vocal identity on the group’s self-titled follow-up, concentrating more on his lower register at the outset.
Few bands would complain about having a world-conquering smash hit single on a debut album. “Sweet Disposition” off of Australian group the Temper Trap’s Conditions took the band from just another indie-pop group to expansive notoriety, thanks in large part to Dougy Mandagi’s sweet falsetto voice. But massive success from one song can sometimes cause growing pains, especially as the band tries to define its place in the music world.